Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Knife Project-Sharpening and Restoration

There is a saying that you'll hear around the Bait and Tackle stores, "Most fishing lures are designed to catch fishermen not fish."

The same thing can easily be said about knife sharpeners, gun cleaners, hunting equipment...let's face it guys, we're money targets! :-)

I've sharpened knives for many years. I started like everyone else with a Arkansas stone and oil. When I was stationed in Alaska, we'd spend those long and brutally cold nights working on our Buck 110's.

In time I migrated through the ceramic sticks, diamond stones, leather hones, wet sandpaper etc. Finally I decided to buy a small bench belt sander...and haven't looked back.

Here is what I use:

Here is a description of the belts

A. 15ยต (Micron) Silicon Carbide
These have electrostatically oriented particles (on a mylar backing) that cut quickly, but leave a near mirror finish. The belts become finer in use as the silicon carbide particles are reduced in size through fracturing. Very controllable, they are ideal for carving tools, but are equally usable on straight-edged tools like chisels. 15 micron is the equivalent of 1000x in Japanese water stones.

B. Blue Zirconia
Zirconia belts are a combination of aluminum oxide and zirconium oxide, extremely hard, long lasting, and very resistant to particle dulling. Designed to grind hardened steels of all kinds, including stainless, the 40x is used for major stock removal (e.g., lawn-mower blades), while the 80x and 120x are for hand tool blades.

C. Aluminum Oxide
Our aluminum oxide belts are all semi-open coat with resin-resin bond and X-weight cloth suitable for general sanding.

D. Grinding Belts
Ideal for use with hardened tool steels of all kinds, these belts are especially well suited for knife sharpening. Their bonded coating differs from the slurry coating found on most sheet or belt abrasives. Made by 3M with electrostatically oriented particles bonded to the mylar backing in a heat-set resin, the belts are durable and leave a consistent finish. Depending on the amount of shaping required before final honing, optimal performance and best value are obtained when several successively finer grades are used. The 1200x belt is suitable for final honing in most applications.

E. Leather Honing
Use these lap-joint leather belts on your belt sander to hone chisels, plane blades and carving tools to a mirror finish. In 1" x 30" and 1" x 42" sizes to fit many disc/belt sanders. We recommend our blade honing compound for use with these belts.

Basically here is how it works, you start with a heavier grit belt to profile your edge and work down in grit size until you get to the leather hone belt. I've never had a system where I could get my blades scary sharp anytime I wanted to.

Here is a word of caution. If you work with knives long enough you'll end up with some cuts. There is a difference between scary sharp and just plain ole sharp. Scary sharp will slice you to the bone if you're not careful. It happens to all of us at one time or another.

Here is a recent project that I just finished. The knife is an old one for sure. I would guess that it is at least 50 years old. The blade was corroded and pitted with it's tip broken off at some point. In looking closely at the blade I see that the person got a lot of use out of it and although it shows a lot of wear and tear, there is probably a great deal of sentimental value for it.

I decided to do a good cleaning of the blade, reconstruct the tip, and then give it a sharpening. I also decided NOT to make it scary sharp, just a good clean edge. Here is the project knife next to an old Western knife which is about the same age.

First of all I dulled the blade. It wasn't very sharp to begin with, but I really didn't want any surprises.

This is the blade tip after re profiling it.

I started cleaning it with my Dremel tool and a felt pad with polishing compound. Here we are halfway complete.

And now with the blade cleaned.

To sharpen, you move start with a medium or heavy grit belt. I started here with a medium grit as this blade is Carbon steel and wasn't in need of some serious metal removal. Three or four passes horizontal in both directions and the main section of the blade is complete.

When you move towards the tip, you'll need to slightly tilt the blade up and rotate it away, making a greater angle on the tip than the belly of the blade. If you don't do this, then you'll remove metal from the tip.

Hopefully this image will show the metal wire which is formed as you move through the belts. You know you're on the right track when you regularly make a "wire" on the blade. The final leather strap polish will remove the wire.

Finished, with a mirrored sharp edge.

What did you think about this post?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yucatan Rosewood

I finally got the chance to work on some new wood that I just picked up. This is Yucatan Rosewood. This block has beautiful lines and figuring. I am still trying to get the Ruger MK2/3 grips to the point where they are sell able. Like the 1911's, it's taking me numerous sets and mistakes to get to this point.

I should have the MK2/3 ready to go in the very near future.

Yucatan Rosewood-Sample

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Amboyna Burl

I finished this pair yesterday. This is Amboyna Burl. I love working with this particular wood, except that it is so expensive it certainly gave me a case of the 'nerves' before I did any cutting or shaping!

Amboyna Burl was used in the past as a dash treatment for Rolls Royce and now because of it's rarity you just don't see much of this around at all.

Amboyna Burl-For Sale
Cut for Ambi safety
grip set #003

I have some grips for the Ruger Mk3 that I hopefully will be able to finish this week and post photos.

Friday, June 12, 2009

1911 and Bolivian Rosweood

I wanted to post a set of Bolivian Rosewood grips I did for a guy over on the MD Shooters forums. I'm posting a photo of the before 'polishing' and then how they look when assembled.

I have enough of the Bolivian Rosewood left for a couple more sets, but when it's's gone.

I picked up a nice block of Yucatan Rosewood and will do a set for the Ruger MK3 when I get my Haz Mat suit in.

Haz mat suit? Yeah, that and an asbestos quality respirator. My body reacted violently from a build up of Rosewood particle dust, and that put me in the Emergency Room last Saturday evening. My woodworking buddies have all had similar experiences with various types of exotic wood particle dust, so I can attest that making gun grips has it's hazards.

Bolivian Rosewood--SOLD
Grip Set #002

(Before Polishing)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

1911 with Wenge

The wood on this Pro Carry is called Wenge. Wenge comes from the Congo area in Africa. The strange thing about Wenge is it's aroma when you are working with it, especially during smells like brownies baking.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1911 with Kingwood

That in itself isn't that unusual but the wood itself it. First of all an end cut turns out very dark, while a rip cut shows it's magnificent lines. The wood is dense and oily and takes a polish very very well.

With these grips I use one coat of Tung oil. Now with other woods, the Tung oil will absorb in fairly short order and allow me to give another coat to seal it before final polishing. Not so with Kingwood. It takes over 24 hours for the Tung oil to absorb and then it's still tacky. This wood polishes great.

When I finish my pieces I use a combination of three buffer wheels loaded with various types of wax compounds. The wood smooths out and stays 'grippy.'


Brazilian Kingwood or as it is called in woodworkjing circles, Kingwood is very unique. First of all it gets it's name from the 17th Century when the Kings of Europe preferred that their furniture be made from it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

1911 with Camphor Burl Grips

Camphor Burl is a joy to work with. The aroma from this wood is unbelievable. Camphor Burl comes from Southeast Asia. If the name sounds familiar it is because this is the tree where Camphor comes from, an aroma with an almost eucalyptus scent.

This burl is highly figured and will look very good on any 1911.

This particular wood is rare and scarce...therefore more expensive.

This particular set is numbered #001 and is for the 1911 model with no cut for an ambidextrous safety.

Camphor Burl-For Sale
Grip #001

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ruger MK3 with Brazilian Kingwood

This was something new for me. The Ruger MK 3 Hunter is an excellent and accurate .22. I love banging rounds out with this one.

I cut some Brazilian Kingwood for a set of grips. The MK3 is hard to do as there is so much inletting on the inside which leads to higher than average failures...busted grips.

Anyway this was my first good set and I have too many errors to offer this one for sale.

If you'll notice that the griups are end cuts, which due to the nature of Kingwood are very dark. I have some 1911 grips which are rip cut and have a completely different look. Strange wood.

I am working on some Yucatan Rosewood for another set and will post photos when they are finished.

Kingwood-End Cut-Sold

Sunday, June 7, 2009

1911 with Bolivian Rosewood Grips

This block of Bolivian Rosewood has very nice figuring. It took a few attempts to try to get the photos color as close to the actual wood as possible. I guess that part of the business is still a work in progress.

I love how this grip accentuates against the aluminum and stainless Kimber Pro Carry

Bolivian Rosewood-Sample